Apparently in response to U.S. sanctions placed on dozens of Iranian entities earlier this year, following Iran’s unlawful ballistic missile tests, the Iranian regime imposed sanctions on 15 American companies, last week.  Among other things, it accused them of “support for terrorism”.

The U.S. companies who were targeted do not do business in Iran. 

Additionally, a senior Iranian lawmaker stated that Iran is now considering a bill calling the U.S. military and the CIA “terrorist groups” in reaction to the U.S. Congress’s bill to designate the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) a foreign terrorist organization (FTO). The White House’s review of that possibility has rattled Tehran, as it would have far-reaching consequences for the IRGC, who control a large portion of Iran’s entire economy.

Evidently, these are Tehran’s latest reactions to the new U.S. administration’s tougher rhetoric. The former American administration followed a policy of appeasement, giving Tehran many concessions. However, that policy has ended. 

According to an article by Ali Safavi, member of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the National Council of Resistance of Iran, “In 2005, Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei executed an elaborate and comprehensive plan to strengthen the IRGC. In May of that year, Khamenei issued a directive instructing the government to transfer 80 percent of its holdings to "non-governmental public, private and cooperative sectors" — a.k.a. Khamenei and IRGC affiliates — by 2009. A month later, he engineered the election of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.”

He continues, “Ahmadinejad came out of nowhere to occupy the presidential palace. A day before the election, official opinion polls had pegged his support at 1.7 percent. The poll favorite, with 28-percent support (a 17-fold superiority over Ahmadinejad), was the former president Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani,” and adds, “True to form, Ahmadinejad quickly stacked ministries with veterans of the IRGC. Half of his cabinet members were IRGC members. A year earlier, IRGC veterans had won the majority of seats in parliament. Shortly after Ahmadinejad's win, the IRGC announced an internal restructuring push to reflect its expanding roles and responsibilities on the political playing field.”

The National Council of Resistance of Iran, published a new book entitled, "The Rise of Iran's Revolutionary Guards' Financial Empire”. In it, they divulge how the state-owned assets were transferred to the IRGC, including large mines, primary industries, foreign commerce, banks, insurance, power industries, post, roads, railroads, airlines and shipping companies.

It is estimated that $12 billion worth of assets were transferred to Khamenei and the IRGC between 2005 through 2008, who now own 14 major powerhouses that run the economy, according to the NCRI, including a conglomerate known as Setad; the foundations (or bonyads) like the Mostazafan, Astan-e Qods, and Shahid foundations; the IRGC Cooperatives; major business empires like the Khatam Construction Co. and Ghadir Investments; as well as "cooperatives" controlled by the security forces.

The NCRI reports that Tehran spends between $15-20 billion annually to fund the war in Syria, including some $1 billion in salaries. Addiionally, at least $1 billion is provided annually to the Lebanese Hezbollah. Yemen and Iraq are supported by the IRGC and Khamenei, according to the report.

Western business ventures and governments should be warned that “doing business with Iran is doing business with the IRGC.”

According to Safavi, “The new administration should designate the IRGC as a terrorist entity. The possibility alone has inspired Iran’s resort to pathetic countermeasures. However comical, they are harmless. And that’s a step in the right direction.”